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Human Sacrifice (and Extreme Gingerism) in Ancient Egypt?

 
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dashotep
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:08 pm    Post subject: Human Sacrifice (and Extreme Gingerism) in Ancient Egypt? Reply with quote

Apparently it was claimed by Montigue Summers, translator of the 'Malleus Malleficarum', that the Ancient Egyptians sacrificed red haired men, as burnt offerings at the grave of Osiris. The red hair was supposed to reflect the golden wealth of the corn. This titbit is attributed to Manetho, along with an alternative explanation that red hair associated them with Typhon (Seth) the evil brother of Osiris.

Something like the above information is given in James Frazer's 'The Golden Bough', in a section entitled 'The Corn Spirit Slain in his Human Representatives'.
http://www.templeofearth.com/books/goldenbough.pdf
p. 392b:

Quote:
'Indeed some high modern authorities believe that Busiris was the original home of Osiris, from which his worship spread to other parts of Egypt. The human sacrifice were said to have been offered at his grave, and the victims were red-haired men, whose ashes were scattered abroad by means of winnowing-fans. This tradition of human sacrifices offered at the tomb of Osiris is confirmed by the evidence of the monuments.'

This is mentioned in the context of restoring fertility to the crops.

I'm not sure what monumental evidence is being referred to. The story seems unlikely to me. Human sacrifice doesn't seem to have been a feature of dynastic Egypt, though it was not uncommon in the predynastic. As for Seth, I have not seen representations of Seth with red hair, nor in human form generally. He normally has an unnatural creature's head with a bent snout and tall square ears.

I can't imagine red hair was common in Egypt, though there is a predynastic mummy called Ginger, on account of apparently auburn locks, and I have read claims that Ramesses II was naturally red-haired, and that he used henna dye in his old age to retain the colour.

Another story of human sacrifice in Egypt, returning to that grim topic, is the 'bride of the Nile' myth. The legend seems still to have great currency among the Arabs, and to be taken for granted as a true thing, despite a total lack of ancient evidence for such a rite. The Arabic accounts even have the Christian Copts continuing the murderous practice, which seems totally incredible.

http://egyptology.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/nile-bride-sacrifice-myth.html
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neseret
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 8:26 am    Post subject: Re: Human Sacrifice (and Extreme Gingerism) in Ancient Egypt Reply with quote

dashotep wrote:
As for Seth, I have not seen representations of Seth with red hair, nor in human form generally. He normally has an unnatural creature's head with a bent snout and tall square ears.


Part of Seth's iconography and textual references refer to him as "red-haired" and as he's paired with the red deserts of Egypt, this would be in keeping with both his domain and his "foreign-ness" in the Egyptian pantheon. Sutekh (Seth) is both ultimate "outsider" and trickster in Egyptian mythology, due to his unnatural birth from his mother Nut (he "exploded" from her side rather than by natural birth) and his unpredictability. He is considered loud, strong, and often inclined towards deviant acts.

Anthropomorphically, Sutekh is represented as a man's body with dark red skin, red-hair, and with the face of a mythical beast, with the usual bent muzzle and square ears.

dashotep wrote:
I can't imagine red hair was common in Egypt, though there is a predynastic mummy called Ginger, on account of apparently auburn locks, and I have read claims that Ramesses II was naturally red-haired, and that he used henna dye in his old age to retain the colour.


According to the scientific studies done on the Ramses II mummy in the late 1970's, Ramses II had red-hair hair colour naturally, called (in modern terms) "Venetian red." The colour is reflected throughout the hair shaft in shape and texture (Balout and Roubet 1985). As he died in his late 70's, the king apparently tended to henna his white hairs as he grew older, which turned the white hair yellow.

Since red hair was associated with the deity Sutekh, individuals with red hair were considered his progeny or - at the very least - of his "type." Apparently the early Ramessids (Possibly Ramses I, but definitely Seti I and Ramses II) were red-haired, as there are representations of Seti I with red hair in the temple of Seti I at Abydos, and the Balout/Roubet study confirms red hair (natural) in Ramses II. This feature may have given these kings an advantage politically as well, as Sutekh was a fierce and strong deity in mythology, considered a warrior deity, and was often worshipped within the military ranks (from where the Ramessid family came).

dashotep wrote:
Another story of human sacrifice in Egypt, returning to that grim topic, is the 'bride of the Nile' myth. The legend seems still to have great currency among the Arabs, and to be taken for granted as a true thing, despite a total lack of ancient evidence for such a rite. The Arabic accounts even have the Christian Copts continuing the murderous practice, which seems totally incredible.

http://egyptology.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/nile-bride-sacrifice-myth.html


Interestingly, at least through the 1940's, the Egyptians continued to hold festivals at the rising of the Nile, which contained a young girl as "bride of the Nile", who traversed the Nile in a papyrus skiff made for the occasion, highly decorated, with the "bride" sitting on the deck in full bridal array. She obviously was not killed, but it is thought that perhaps when the various foreign rulers came into Egypt with the advent of Islam, they saw the festival as "pagan" and imputed the worst results to the ceremony of the wedding the Nile god with a "bride."

The "Nile bride" festival may have more to due with the myth of the "Distant Goddess," when Tefnut (or Mut, Sekhmet, or Isis, all referred to as Ra's "wandering Eye" goddess, depending upon the time period) was thought to have become angry with Ra over some issue, and left Egypt, taking the Nile flood with her.

She is eventually cajoled back into the land, and of course, the Inundation follows her. Since the later "Nile Bride" festival occurs just as the river is in its rising stage, the "bride" could be seen as a form of one of these goddesses bringing the fertility back into the land.

Reference:

Balout, L. and C. Roubet, Eds. 1985. La Momie de Ramsès II: Contribution Scientifique a l'Egyptologie. 1976-1977. Paris: Éditions Recherche sur les Civilisations/Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle/Musée de l'Homme.

Griffiths, J. Gwyn 1958. Remarks on the mythology of the eyes of Horus. Chronique d'Égypte 33/66: 182-193.

Inconnu-Bocquillon, D. 2001. Le mythe de la déesse lointaine à Philae. Bibliothèque d'étude 132. Le Caire: Institut français d'archéologie orientale

Richter, B. A. 2010. On the heels of the Wandering Goddess: the myth and the festival at the temples of the Wadi el-Hallel and Dendera. In Dolińska, Monika and Horst Beinlich (eds), 8. Ägyptologische Tempeltagung: Interconnections between temples, Warschau, 22.-25. September 2008: 155-186. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

te Velde, H. 1968. The Egyptian God Seth as a Trickster. JARCE 7: 37-40.

_________. 1977. Seth, God of Confusion. A Study of His Role in Egyptian Mythology and Religion. Probleme der Ägyptologie. 6. Leiden: Brill.

Verhoeven, U. and P. Derchain. 1985. Le voyage de la déesse libyque. Ein Text aus dem 'Mutritual' des Pap. Berlin 3053. Rites Egyptiens 5. Bruxelles: Fondation Egyptologique Reine Elisabeth.

HTH.
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Oriental Institute
Oriental Studies
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dashotep
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting, thanks. Any more information on the claims about human sacrifice in relation to the cult of Osiris? As I say, it seems unlikely, and out of keeping with the prevailing morality, (ma'at, and all that...).
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dashotep wrote:
... Any more information on the claims about human sacrifice in relation to the cult of Osiris? ...

A "cult" for Osiris is not to proof before the 5th or 6th Dynasty. Even the name of this god is not given before. Human sacrifice in Ancient Egypt is still a contentious issue. If anything, there is no concrete and clear evidence for it after the 1st Dynasty Royal Tombs at Abydos.

Greetings, Lutz.
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